Thursday, May 31, 2007

War Against Iraq To Last 50 Years

H/T Crooks And Liars

Well, know the White House is finally saying out loud, what I've been saying for year. It doesn't feel good at all to be right about these things.

Bush envisions U.S. presence in Iraq like S.Korea

By Steve Holland Wed May 30, 2:55 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -
President George W. Bush would like to see a lengthy U.S. troop presence in
Iraq like the one in
South Korea to provide stability but not in a frontline combat role, the White House said on Wednesday.

The United States has had thousands of U.S. troops in South Korea to guard against a North Korean invasion for 50 years.

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Road We're Travelling?

I remember feeling really bummed when I worked this cyclically of oil pricing out in 1999. Usually when I crack a problem I feel good for a while. But it seems that understanding our dependency on oil just makes the depth of the problem seem worse. When I demonstrated to my own satisfaction, that the optimistic scenarios of the folks pushing alternatives could never happen, I just felt a bit empty.

This rise in pricing comes at a scary time. With Bush nearing the end of his presidency and prices rising fast, he is in a position to really screw things up for us, for decades to come. If he simply is successful in keeping his war going, we're going to have a bad collapse as he leaves office, if not sooner.

If he starts a war with Iran, I fear we're going to see ration books and government stores dispensing food from China.

Right now, just to keep the surge increasing in Iraq. The US Military is going to have to increase its consumption of fuel. So they will bid the price higher, in order to out compete us peasants in the civilian economy. Bush has plans to have 200,000 troops operating in Iraq by the end of the year. That's as many as we started with. The causality rate will go up, and this will demonstrate to the war hawks that we need even more troops.

The cycle will go like this. The surge will harm the US economy. Jobs will be lost. Young people will see they have no future. More will sign up for military service and go to Iraq. The increase in troop levels will increase the violence and death tolls, while increasing expenses and spending on fuel. This will harm the civilian economy...,

We are moving to a full time war economy. And in a war economy we're going to have to sacrifice. We'll have to give up jobs and the hopes of sending our kids to college. The price of food and clothing will rise. This war will send us into an economic depression.

If Bush attacks Iran, the Government's fuel usage will have to dramatically increase. The civilian economy may see a fuel cutback of 20-30%. This will drive gasoline prices up past $5/gal and will result in massive job loss.

The Commander Guy and other folks in the White House have experts telling them how different scenarios work out. They realize that the US gov can afford to borrow infinite quantities of money and funnel it into fuel purchases. For them, its just an ever expanding revenue stream for the oil industry.

The oil industry then, doesn't even need the civilian economy. The US Military is already its number one customer. If the military's role is increased, it can afford to pay, whatever the fuel costs, and buy it in large quantities. The US Gov will simply borrow the money from the Federal Reserve and then stick us with the bill. There is no accountability in the government for such behavior. Those who pay, 'We The People', don't have any say in the matter.

And as my previous predictions that the Democrats won't stop the war if elected. I apologize for being right.

The logic is simple.

The Democrats won't stop the war, because they'll be blamed for losing it.
The Republicans won't stop the war because they'll be blamed for starting it an losing it.

For our politicians, the war is a big ATM. Every dead soldiers is cash in the pockets of our elected representatives. They see how the economy is going and they understand, that if they stop converting live soldiers into dead ones, then the ATM will stop flowing. When the ATM stops, they'll have to live in the same economy we do. They'll be expected to fix what they broke.

What politician would want to cut off the flow of cash into their accounts, and be forced to deal with the problems that they have created? I would guess that very few have the moral and ethical spine to do so. No party is going to come to our rescue. This is a storm we'll have to ride out. When its over, we'll have to deal with the devastation, the best we can.

Don't expect those that have created this mess, to help fix it.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Price Gouging?

Gasoline prices continue to rise. The MSM, bloggers, folks on the street are crying that its price gouging. Maybe to some degree it is.

But perhaps its also, good ole' capitalism. Maybe we're being charged what the market will bear? Maybe as Colbert argues, this is the path to Democracy?

Actually, like every other price increase we've seen, I believe its a convergence of factors.

I've talked before about demand destruction when supply and demand come into sync. I've been prattling on about it since 1999.

But just to refresh...

When demand is less than supply, prices remain stable or drop. Low prices encourage consumption and increase demand. When demand approaches supply, prices increase. When prices are high enough, those sectors of demand that are must vulnerable to high prices, ie: businesses, begin to cut back. They fire people. They declare bankruptcy. They disappear. Then when demand is below supply again, then prices drop.

Now economics teaches us that energy is a commodity, like sand. If you put twenty dollars worth of sand in your gasoline tank, then it will work like like twenty dollars worth of gasoline. Hrmmm, not exactly. The difference here is that energy is the lifeblood of industry. The quantity of energy available, determines how much industry you can have. It isn't really a commodity, it isn't 'substitutable'. So it can't be used in economic theory to replace sand. Well in theory, if you like garbage in and garbage out, sure, but when applied to the real world, it lacks predictive value.

Matt Simmons tells us that world oil production probably peaked about a year ago. He tells us that Gwahar is in decline, and going downhill fast.

So as the world tries to increase consumption, the price of oil and refined products keeps getting bid upwards. If you bid $3.00 and someone in China bids $3.50, is the resulting price gouging or the market working as designed?

For the US, its worse. The US Gov including the US Military consumes half of the fuel supplied to the USA. The US Gov can borrow infinite quantities of money to buy the fuel with. They decide how much they want to burn and bid the price up until they get it. Congress is spending now $456 billion in Iraq now. That buys a lot of fuel.

Now in a nation with a fixed or declining fuel supply, and the Gov increasing its consumption no matter the cost, what is the logical outcome? Well its a bidding war with private industry. And private industry doesn't have infinite quantities of money to out bid the government with, so it must do with less.

Can you pay $50 for a gallon of gasoline? The US Government can. They'll borrow all the money they need to buy it, then bill us for it.

The public think price gouging is the culprit. I expect soon we'll hear that Iran is at fault too. Soon the war drums will beat to attack Iran. The US Government will then need not 50% of our fuel, but 75%. Gasoline at $10/gal will be close behind.

This is the sacrifice we make in times of war.

Once demand drops, gasoline prices will drop too, but will settle to higher level than the last low. This is because there are more dollars in the world.

At the pump, we're bidding against entities with infinitely deep pockets. We can't win.

Friday, May 11, 2007

The Paranoia Of Idiots

This is what our government thought was a listening device?!!!
Well, I fell for it to. When the press reported that coins were discovered that had tracking devices in them, I thought is was because it was determined that they were tracking devices. In other words, they were broadcasting radio waves, gave off electronic noise, were disassembled to review the circuitry and battery.

But no. They were declared tracking devices without testing, in order to pump up hysteria and make the people fearful.

Has this story made it on US news?

Should we believe anything at all coming from our Keystone Cops Administration? Heck what if there was a real threat? How would we know?

Remember the boy who cried wolf? He cried wolf so many times that the villagers learned to ignore him. Then the wolf really did come and ate all of his sheep. This is like that, except we're the sheep.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Verizon Says It Has Constitutional Rights

Verizon says phone record disclosure is protected free speech

The argument here is that the US Constitution applies to corporations. And further, that they can record calls and turn over those calls and record of those calls to third parties.

Though they mention the government specifically, there is nothing in the US Constitution that says that free speech is limited to conversation with the government.

So they could secretly record calls from IBM, and sell those recordings to Microsoft. And as they argue, they have the constitutional right to do so.

They can record our calls and resell them to telemarketing corporations.

I think its clear that we have no expectation of privacy when using the telephone.

Jon Stewart on The Republican Candidates

Crooks and Liars has a Jon Stewart Video that is pretty funny. Some of you know that I've thought that Osama Bin Laden has been dead since 1999 or 2000, so Senator McCains words were the epitomy of irony to me.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Greensburg, Kansas

My heart goes out to all the people who have lost so much in this disaster.

Worse is the fact that Kansas has sent most of its disaster relief equipment to Iraq, where its being destroyed in an occupation with no end. Kansas can't even replace this equipment without it being requisitioned to the National Guard in Iraq.

So outside contractors are going to be used to help with the relief effort. Relief efforts that would've begun in hours under peace time, but will take weeks instead, as the paperwork and agreements are worked out.

And who expects this to go differently than Katrina?

There will be overbilling. There will be payment for work never performed. There will be an insistence by the White House to use international corporations and to shut out local help.

Greensburg will become a ghost town. Wiped out by the fraud and mismanagement of the Bush administration, as surely as if it were hit by one of those nucular bombs Bush and Rice work to frighten us with.

So under Bush's watch, two American cities have been destroyed and we don't have the resources to pick up the pieces.

As long as this war continues, we'll continue to suffer attrition at home. We are making war time sacrifices. We're letting our nation crumble to ruin as we invest all of our resources in the destruction of a nation, that never made a hostile gesture in our direction.

This is what competition for limited resources looks like.

Friday, May 04, 2007

War Spending Harms The Economy

I've been writing for some time on the dangers of increased government spending, while at Peak and during the decline. The argument seems simple enough. A fixed quantity of energy, will get you a fixed quantity of production. A declining quantity of energy will reduce production.

More government spending will divert resources away from the civilian economy and drive prices of everything upwards. To compensate, civilian industries will need to keep wages stagnant or even lay off workers in order to continue to do business, while profit margins decline.

In the old days, we could keep increasing energy production and grow both the military sector and the civilian sector. But those days are over. Now we have to pick one. Logically we might choose to reduce military spending to stabilize the civilian economy, but I doubt we will. We'll keep increasing the military until we have a serious problem with the home economy. Then we'll increase government spending to help those that are being destroyed by the economy. The government will keep growing like a parasite that doesn't know to stop feeding when its killing the host.

Now someone has spent a little money to see if this is true, in an article entitled, "The Economic Impact of the Iraq War and Higher Military Spending".

Here's the Executive Summary from the article.

There has been relatively little attention paid to the Iraq War's impact on the U.S. economy. It is often believed that wars and military spending increases are good for the economy. This is not generally true in most standard economic models. In fact, most models show that military spending diverts resources from productive uses, such as consumption and investment, and ultimately slows economic growth and reduces employment.

In order to get an approximation of the economic impact of the recent increase in military spending associated with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Center for Economic and Policy Research commissioned Global Insight to run a simulation with its macroeconomic model. It produced a simulation of the impact of an increase in annual U.S. military spending equal to 1 percent of GDP, approximately the actual increase in spending compared with the pre-war budget (see appendix). We selected the Global Insight model for this analysis because it is a commonly used and widely respected model. Global Insight produced a set of projections that compared a scenario with an increase in annual military spending equal to 1.0 percent of GDP (current about $135 billion) relative to its baseline scenario. This is approximately equal to the increase in defense spending that has taken place compared with the pre-September 11th baseline.

The projections show that:

• After an initial demand stimulus, the effect of higher defense spending turns negative around the sixth year. After 10 years of higher defense spending, payroll employment would be 464,000 less than in the baseline scenario. After 20 years the job loss in the scenario with higher military spending rises to 668,100 compared to the baseline scenario.

• Inflation and interest rates would be considerably higher in the scenario with higher military spending. In the first five years, the annual inflation rate would be on average 0.3 percentage points higher in the scenario with higher military spending. Over the full twenty year period, inflation averages approximately 0.5 percentage points more in the high defense spending scenario. After five years, the interest rate on 10-Year Treasury notes is projected to be 0.7 percentage points higher than in the baseline scenario. After ten years, this gap is projected to rise to 0.9 percentage points, and after twenty years to 1.1 percentage points.

• Higher interest rates are projected to lead to reduced demand in the interest sensitive sectors of the economy. After five years, annual car and truck sales are projected to go down by 192,200 in the high military spending scenario. After ten years, the drop is projected to be 323,300 and after twenty years annual sales are projected to be down 731,400.

• Annual housing starts are projected to be 17,900 lower in the high military spending scenario after five years, 46,200 lower after ten years, and 38,500 lower after twenty years. The cumulative projected drop in housing starts over the twenty year period is 530,000. The drop in annual existing home sales is projected to be 128,400 after five years, 247,900 after ten years and 286,500 after twenty years.

• Higher interest rates are projected to raise the value of the dollar relative to foreign currencies. This makes imports cheaper, causing people in the United States to buy more imports and makes U.S. exports more expensive for people living in other countries, leading to a drop in exports. The model projects that in the high military spending scenario, high imports and weak exports causes the current account deficit to increase (become more negative) by $90.2 billion (2000 dollars) after five years, compared to the baseline scenario. The current account deficit is projected to be $72.5 billion higher after ten years and $112.8 billion higher (both in 2000 dollars) after twenty years. The cumulative effect of higher imports and weaker exports over twenty years is projected to add approximately $1.8 trillion (in 2000 dollars) to the country’s foreign debt.

• Construction and manufacturing are the sectors that are projected to experience the largest shares of the job loss. While construction is projected to have a net gain of 8,500 jobs after five years, it is projected to lose 144,200 jobs after ten years and 211,400 jobs after twenty years in the high military spending scenario. Manufacturing is projected to lose 44,200 after five years, 95,200 jobs after ten years, and 91,500 jobs after twenty years in the high military spending scenario. Two-thirds of the projected job loss is in the durable goods sector.

The paper notes that military spending is not generally perceived to cost jobs, however, in standard economic models, its impact can be thought of in the same way as spending on the environment, which is generally believed to cost jobs. While tax and emission restrictions are often used to achieve environmental ends, it is also possible to reach environmental targets by paying people to do things that will reduce pollution. For example, it is possible to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by paying people to buy more fuel efficient cars and appliances, or paying them to install insulation and other energy saving devices.

In the case of both increased military spending and paying people to take steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, resources would be pulled away from their market directed uses. In standard economic models, this redirection of resources will cause the economy to operate less efficiently and therefore lead to slower growth and fewer jobs. In the scenario modeled in this exercise, higher interest rates are the mechanism that slows the economy and leads to fewer jobs.

In policy debates, it is important to recognize the potential job loss from military spending. The potential economic costs are often a factor in debates over environmental policy. Economic costs should also be recognized in debates over military policy. It would be useful to have the Congressional Budget Office produce its own projections of the economic impact of a sustained increase in defense spending.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Email Sent to Representatives in the Hearing

I want to thank for the hearings that you are holding on Halliburton's unethical activities.

Halliburton as we know, will soon be outside the scope of US law. They are moving to the UAE where they will be able to work with regimes that support terrorism, with no fear of reprisals from the US.

Now, this will likely preclude them from doing direct work for the US. Could they still set up a parent shell corporation, that then subcontracts work to them from the US?

so even though they aren't legally able to contract to do sensitive work for our military, couldn;t they still do so as a subcontractor for a US corporation?

Halliburton and Terrorism

Check out the video on Crooks And Liars

Government Oversight Continues With Halliburton, Cheney & Terrorists

The video backs up some assertions I've made in the past.

At the time, I couldn't find online attributions.

Halliburton continues to work both sides of the war and supports terrorism in the name of profits. They do so legally, by using subsideraries.

Dick Cheney continues to profit from the same people who are working to kill our soldiers in Iraq. Halliburton under Dick Cheney's watch profitted under the rule of Saddam Hussein even while under sanctions. Halliburton says they legally did this by using their subsidiary in Libya, which was a nation on the terrorism watch list.

Dick Cheney even under the rule of Clinton was helping to fund international terrorism through shady business practices.

Until the Bush administration lifted the terrorism designation for Libya, Halliburton had billions of dollars frozen in Libyan banks.

Halliburton must've known this was coming. Its a smart for them to move to the UAE. then they can profit from terrorism without breaking US laws.

They'll likely then simply take subcontracts from a corporation in the US to do overseas work.

Condileeza Rice Negotiating With Terrorists?

Rice Presses Maliki on Eve Of Conference on Iraq Aid

Quote from the article:
Much of the attention surrounding the two-day gathering of nearly 60 governments has focused on whether Rice will meet with her counterparts from Syria and Iran, who are also attending. Rice said early Wednesday that she "wouldn't rule out" a meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem.

Now these are the people that were labelled terrorists when Nancy Pelosi, went there, following a Republican committee trip to Syria.

So not only are Republican Senators and Congressmen cutting deals and making plans to work with terrorists, but th White House is going work with terrorists too!

Is the White House working both sides of this war?

Bush Defeats The Democrats

I saw it in today's paper.

The Democrats are going to redo the bill and take out language on withdrawing the troops.

For the Republicans, this is a perceived victory. And a perceived loss to the Democrats.

But is it?

If the Democrats can't get Bush removed from office, then they are going to have to play dirty. They need to let the Republicans have plenty of rope to hang themselves with. As the war continues to fail, one party or the other is going to get blamed. If the Dems are perceived to have blocked the war efforts, then they'll evnetually get blamed for the whole war.

If the Republicans get everything they want, then they'll only be able to blame us for our thoughts. After all Republicans understand that thoughts matter when it comes to roadside bombings. Negative thinking cuases bombs to kill people when they explode nearby. Positive thinking makes people immune to to bomb blasts. Or at least that's the logic we hear from the loud mouths that represent the Republican Party.

So the Republicans and Democrats are playing a game of cat and mouse on the blame game. To keep it going they have to keep the slaughter of US soldiers going. The way they implement the slaughter American soldiers, will determine who wins the next elections.

Either way, our young men and women have to keep dying, in order to keep the political games going. The noble cause that they are dying for is party politics.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Kieth Olbermann - Mission Accomplished Anniversary

h/t Eschaton

Bush says that politicians shouldn't be in charge of this war. Then he argues that a politician should be running this war.

"By the way, in the report it said, it is -- the government may have to put in more troops to be able to get to that position. And that's what we do. We put in more troops to get to a position where we can be in some other place. The question is, who ought to make that decision? The Congress or the commanders? And as you know, my position is clear -- I'm the commander guy." - Politician George Bush

Bush Vetoes War Funding

I love the way the issue is framed, "Bush veto puts new pressure on Democrats".

As Bush puts it, "This is a prescription for chaos and confusion and we must not impose it on our troops," Bush said in a nationally broadcast statement from the White House. "It makes no sense to tell the enemy when you plan to start withdrawing."

Bush doesn't want objectives, missions, timetables, goals or any of the other elements of war that military leaders use to gauge success.

but then Bush told us already that its not his job to win or lose the war. Its his job to keep the war going until the next administration takes over.

Bush has told us a number of times what his job is. Not once has he told us that it has anything to do with his oath to uphold and protect the Constitution of the United States of America. I wonder who tells Bush what his job is?

Republicans are really beginning to show the strain now. Meacham from Newsweek shows his support by telling us that the War against Iraq is as innocent as gambling. As he describes it, Bush tossed a die out there (The troops), and hoped it land on a six. The operative word is 'Hope'. And that's not normally how you fight wars. You don't just toss troops into a battle with no plan and hope they win objectives that are unknown. Meacham's odds are 1 in 6 that the troops will win, and 5 in 6 that our troops will get slaughtered and we'll lose the war.

And he makes this argument in support of Bush!

Republicans are turning on Bush. Tenet is suddenly realizing that he is vulnerable and is twisting in the wind. They are beginning to realize that the war itself is the plan.

After all, if we define what victory is, won't that embolden the terrorists? Won't they then try to prevent victory?

General Patreaus recently told us that he has troops at the ready to take this offensive to the next level. And coincidentally, the Iraqi Parliament is about to go on vacation. This war is about to get much worse, and its going to have a severe impact on the Republican chances in the next election. The death toll on both sides are going to be increasing dramatically as the election nears.

Obviously this is intentionally. Bush has a lifelong history of screwing his friends over. I hope they like it.